Becoming more energy efficient isn’t just for those of us who want to save the environment. Being energy efficient can really help your wallet. Whether it’s something as big as installing solar panels, or something as small as turning off the lights, when you cut back on how much energy you use, you save money. There are many steps you can take to make your home more energy efficient. Some energy-efficient changes are one-time investments. Others are things you can do every day! Realize, though, that you don’t have to follow every step to be energy efficient. Even if you only implement two or three of these changes you will be saving energy, money, and the environment too.
Adding new or additional insulation to your ceilings, attic and walls along with using caulking or weather stripping to make sure doors and windows are properly sealed will prevent cold drafts and air leaks to keep warm air inside during the freezing winter. During the sweltering summer months, these same improvements will help trap the cool air from air conditioning inside your home.
New high-efficiency furnaces burns less gas, burns hotter, and produces less carbon emissions, but older models can also be made more efficient too. Annual servicing by a professional is the first step. That will involve cleaning the parts you can’t reach and making sure it isn’t working harder than it has to. For your part, replacing filters every three months – more if you’ve done renovations or have pets – ensures air moves easily into the unit and prolongs its life.
Close the vents in rooms you use less frequently in your home, like guest bedrooms, so you’re only heating or cooling rooms that are occupied. Seal your furnace/AC duct work
On-demand water heaters are often the most efficient choice, since water isn’t being heated when not in use. For electric hot water tanks, try wrapping it in insulating blanket to reduce heat loss. Keep your water heater “warm”. The “warm” range (120 to 140 degrees) is just fine. In fact, newer water heaters will turn the temperature down to 140 if you turn it up past that. It just doesn’t need to be that hot.
Hot air can escape through joints in ductwork. That means you’re paying to heat places you don’t want to (for instance, an unfinished basement) and not getting heat to areas you do (upper floor rooms). Applying heating-vent tape to all visible joints will help. Keeping air in the ducts until it reaches its destination will keep your furnace from working too much.
Your windows and doors are a major source of heat loss in a home. Without an airtight seal, you’re wasting energy when heating and cooling your home. Check for drafts by holding a lit candle around window frames and doors. If it flickers, you have a draft. Use caulking around frames, install or replace weather stripping, and add a door sweep.
Replace windows with aluminum frames. Aluminum window frames let heat transfer very easily. Vinyl frames are much more resistant to heat transfer. When shopping, look for Energy star certified windows and doors. Double- or triple-paned low emissivity argon gas-filled glass units are great for keeping the heat in and the cold out (the argon between the glass acts as an incredibly effective insulator). Open the blinds. Why not leave the lights off and let some sun in? Lighting your house with sunlight is 100% free!
Ceiling fans are great when you need to cool bedroom but not whole house with the air conditioner, especially at night. The fan will also help in cold months – most come with a “reverse” option that pushes hot air down into the room.
Although compact fluorescent and LED bulbs cost more initially, the result is considerable savings. This is because these efficient light bulbs last 8-12 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Even using a mix of fluorescent/LED and incandescent lighting throughout your home can have an impact in overall energy usage.
Older appliances are less energy-efficient than newer models. Replace these old clunkers in your home with Energy Star certified appliances. This will go a long way towards saving energy and lowering your electric bills. When shopping, look for models that are labeled as “Energy Star Certified” to ensure you’re getting an energy- and money-saving appliance.
A high efficiency on-demand water heater not only fires when you call for hot water but are easy to maintain. It heats up quickly-and then quits burning fuel. By installing low-flow fixtures and appliances you can further decrease the energy usage in your home. Low-flow toilets, shower heads, and washing machines can save a lot of water too.
The washer, dryer, and dishwasher all use a lot of energy and run for long periods. Try shifting your schedule to wash clothes or dishes during off-peak hours, typically after 7 or any time on weekends and when energy costs are at their lowest. Also, consider using the air-dry option on dishwasher and washing clothes on a shorter cycle.
When the vent at back of the refrigerator and the clothes dryer exhaust get clogged with the dust, the motors work harder, requiring more energy. Vacuum those areas a couple of times a year.
Dryers can account for up to six per cent of a home’s energy use. Hang your clothes in warm months and inside to air dry during the winter when possible.
A programmable thermostat can reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 10 per cent if you adjust the temperature for hours you’re away or sleeping. For lights, install dimmer switches and motion sensors that turn off when you leave the room.
Plug countertop appliances and electronics into power bar and program it to switch off at night. Remember that televisions, cable boxes, PVRs and game consoles suck energy even when not in use. If you have them all on a single power bar, it’s easy to switch off before everyone goes to bed.
Plugged in chargers draw power even when no device is attached. Once your phone, tablet or other devices is fully charged, unplug it – it keeps drawing energy if you don’t.
Once you’ve done everything you can accomplish yourself, a professional can tell you where there’s room for improvement – and more savings.